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Can Hamsters Eat Parsley? Vet-Approved Facts & FAQ

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By Kerry-Ann Kerr

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Karyn Kanowski

BVSc MRCVS (Veterinarian)

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Hamsters are adorable pets that will stuff their cheeks with just about anything you offer them. So, you need to know precisely what is good for them, what can be offered as the occasional treat, and what you should avoid entirely. Thankfully, parsley is safe to share with your hamster in small quantities. In this article, we’ll discuss how to serve parsley to your hamsters, and how to reduce the risks of an adverse reaction.

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Why Feed Your Hamster Parsley?

There are several benefits to eating parsley, and since vegetables make up a portion of your hamster’s diet, it’s always a good idea to look for vegetables that might interest your hamster. The best thing about parsley is that it contains beta-carotene, or vitamin A, which one study found increased survival rates significantly! 1
It also contains vitamin B, which is responsible for energy; vitamin C, which is beneficial for their overall health; and vitamin K, which benefits their blood health. Additionally, it contains antioxidants to protect your hamster from cell damage.

If your hamster has a particular fondness for parsley, you can chop it up and mix it in with their pellets on occasion to spice things up a bit.

hamster eating lettuce on top of paper shavings
Photo Credit: IRINA ORLOVA, Shutterstock

The Risks of Eating Parsley

Parsley should be offered to your hamster in moderation. Most enjoy the taste, but you should keep the portions small to prevent adverse reactions.

High in Calcium

Foods containing high levels of calcium have been found to activate enzymes that are connected to heart problems. This is not to suggest that calcium isn’t necessary in a hamster’s diet; it is! But of course, too much of anything, even a mineral that keeps bones and teeth strong, can become harmful if too much is consumed.

The requirements for hamsters differ depending on their age. If you’re unsure how much calcium your hamster should get, speak to your veterinarian.

Presence of Oxalates

The presence of oxalates in parsley is a drawback. The compounds are found naturally in several plants and bind with minerals such as calcium in the hamster’s kidneys, which can then result in kidney stones. Again, this doesn’t mean your hamster can’t eat parsley; it’s just another reason to feed them it in moderation.

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How to Serve Parsley to Your Hamster

syrian hamster eating lettuce
Photo Credit: amelameli, Shutterstock

If this is the first time your hamster has eaten parsley, you should run your idea past your vet, who will let you know if it is suitable for your pet. Once you have the all-clear, wash the parsley thoroughly and feed them a small sprig of the herb.

Monitor your hamster over the next 24–48 hours for any signs of side effects. It’s unlikely there will be any, but if your hamster shows the following, it’s a bad idea to feed them parsley again:

  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Lethargy

It’s important to note that you should avoid giving your hamster parsley if you are feeding them a lot of leafy green vegetables that are high in calcium, or if they have a history of kidney or bladder stones.

If there are no side effects, your hamster can enjoy a few leaves alongside their regular rotation of vegetables.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Should You Contact the Vet if Your Hamster Has a Bad Reaction?

If you’re concerned about your hamster, it’s always better to get advice from your vet just in case. If your hamster develops diarrhea, be careful not to try correcting their hydration with too much water. Instead, use a product designed for rehydrating hamsters, which is available from your vet. Diarrhea is incredibly serious, and you should contact your vet as soon as possible.

What if Your Hamster Just Stores the Parsley?

Storing food is a normal behavior; hamsters love to hoard food. You should habitually check their cage and remove any fresh food you find so it doesn’t spoil. You could always replace the stored food with some pellets, so your hamster isn’t disappointed when they return and find their stash has been stolen.

chopped parsley
Photo Credit: Pixabay

Are There Any Other Herbs Hamsters Can Eat?

There are plenty of fruits and vegetables that your hamster can enjoy as a treat, but if you’re focusing on herbs, your hamster can enjoy:

  • Basil
  • Coriander
  • Sage

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Final Thoughts

Parsley is safe if you serve it to your hamster in moderation. Due to its high levels of oxalates and calcium, you do need to limit the amount you offer them, but it doesn’t need to be avoided. However, you should choose another herb or vegetable if you are feeding your hamster a calcium-rich vegetable at the same time. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any side effects, such as diarrhea.

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Featured Image Credit: JumpStory

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